German Village Gazette

Blues jam seems to strike chord with patrons

By ThisWeek Community News  • 
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CHRIS PARKER/THISWEEKNEWS
The Blues All Stars band -- (from left) Rick Collura, D'Arco Smith, Lenny Fatigati and Bill Lewandowski -- performs at the Hey Hey Bar and Grill Feb. 12. Lewandowski and his Blues All Stars host an open jam from 7 to 11 p.m. every Wednesday at the Hey Hey, 361 E. Whittier St.
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A blues revival of sorts is growing at a Schumacher Place tavern.

Bill Lewandowski and his Blues All Stars host an open jam from 7 to 11 p.m. every Wednesday at the Hey Hey Bar & Grill, 361 E. Whittier St.

"It's never the same," said Lewandowski, who plays guitar and sings for the band.

"We had a flautist one time. Someone will wheel in a keyboard," he said. "We've had three horns at one time."

The All Stars consist of Lewandowski, Rick Collura on guitar, D'Arco Smith on drums and Lenny Fatigati on bass.

The jam started a few months back, a few years after blues sessions fell by the wayside because of a lack of interest. After Lewandowski's persistence, owner Sue Gall relented.

"It's pretty top-notch," Gall said of the entertainment. "They get some pretty good musicians."

Not to mention, the blues jam coincides with taco Wednesdays at the Hey Hey, which has ratcheted up the menu since Matt Heaggans, owner of the Swoop food truck, took over the kitchen last summer.

Lewandowski said he's had a number of professional musicians drop in, including Sean Carney, Long Tall Deb Landolt and Daryl Jumper.

Still, people of all skill levels are welcome. They can show up, plug in and start to jam, or bring in their own sound equipment.

"We're hitting a groove with young folks who don't have a band and can't play anywhere and have a feel for the stage," he said.

He said the veterans try to make the newcomers feel right at home. Musicians sign up to play in one of four 40-minute sets.

"We try to accommodate everyone who shows up at the door," he said. "We try not to turn down anybody."

Lewandowski, a retired school teacher who lives in Canal Winchester, said the blues appeals to a wide audience.

"The blues is the root of rock 'n' roll," he said. "It's a music that is cross-generational and inspirational and feels good."

Their dedication and camaraderie was shown one recent blustery night, when customers and musicians began clearing snow-covered streets to make room for parking, while others helped bring in the equipment.

"I would say that the people enjoy their Wednesday nights there," Lewandowski said. "It was very moving. The last thing I had on my mind was digging more snow."

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